A method of transferring assets from a tax-deferred 401(k) plan to a traditional individual retirement account (IRA). With this method, the funds are actually given to the employee via check to be deposited into their own personal account. With an indirect rollover, it is then up to the employee to redeposit the funds into the new IRA within the allotted 60 day period to avoid penalty.
Monies transferred by this method are subject to withholding rules which in essence cost the employee 20% of the amount to be transferred. However, the employee has full use of the funds for the entire 60 day period, and has the choice of whether to redeposit into the IRA or not. If the employee chooses not to redeposit, the entire amount is subject to tax.